Syed Modi Badminton: Srikanth in semis after nervy win

Just three points away from sealing what would have been a dominant victory, K. Srikanth had to overcome a dramatic error-filled spell, lasting 11 points in the second game, and save two match-points in the decider to nail Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat on way to the semifinals of the $120,000 Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold badminton championship.

Srikanth hung on after 76 minutes of battle.   -  PTI (File Photo)

It was the kind of triumph that brings more relief than joy for the victor.

Just three points away from sealing what would have been a dominant victory, K. Srikanth had to overcome a dramatic error-filled spell, lasting 11 points in the second game, and save two match-points in the decider to nail Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat on way to the semifinals of the $120,000 Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold badminton championship here on Friday.

During the 76-minute battle that ended in 21-17, 18-21, 24-22 escape to victory for the Indian favourite, the Malaysian sensationally reeled off 11 straight points from 10-18 in the second game to force the decider.

On the other hand, Srikanth needed a huge slice of luck, including a favourable line-call for his first match-point, to offset a series of unforced errors that almost earned Huat a memorable victory. Before Srikanth converted his third match-point, a nervous Huat squandered two opportunities to slam the door on the top seed.

The World No. 9 next plays Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana for a place in Sunday’s final.

Kashyap loses to unseeded Chinese

Later, defending champion and fourth seed P. Kashyap looked a pale shadow of himself as he imploded against Huang Yuxiang. The unseeded Chinese, ranked 73, nailed the Commonwealth Games champion 21-16, 18-21, 21-15 in 68 minutes.

Ranked 14th, Kashyap consistently struggled to find the length of his returns and committed a very high percentage of unforced errors. Though Kashyap rallied from 1-6 to level the scores at 11 and 13 in the decider, Yuxiang won eight out the last 10 points by keeping up the pressure that took its toll on the title-holder.

With Kashyap dethroned, one of the semifinals will be an all-China affair with Yuxiang playing lower-ranked compatriot Shi Yuqi who ended the impressive run of Harsheel Dani in straight games. For the host, one of the pleasant surprises of the day was the unexpected victory for the men’s doubles pair of 36th-ranked Pranav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar over World No. eight, third seeds from Denmark, Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding.

After the 22-20, 11-21, 23-21 triumph in 67 minutes, the Indians were required to re-book their return-tickets, originally meant for Friday evening. They now take on unseeded Malaysians V. Shem Goh and Wee Koang Tan who upset the sixth seeded Russian combination of Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov 21-16, 21-15.

Crowd-pullers G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa, seeded six, advanced to the weekend action by battling past Thailand’s Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanchai 23-21, 21-17 in 45 minutes.

Important results (Quarterfinals, prefix denotes seeding, Indians unless stated):

Men’s singles: 1-K. Srikanth bt Goh Soon Huat (Mal) 21-17, 18-21, 24-22; 11-Boonsak Ponsana (Tha) bt Zulfadli Zulkiffli (Mal) 21-17, 21-19; Huang Yuxiang (Chn) bt 4-P. Kashyap 21-16, 18-21, 21-15; Shi Yuqi (Chn) bt Harsheel Dani 21-14, 21-11.

Women’s singles: Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (Thai) bt 8-Kirsty Gilmour (Sco) 21-18, 21-19; 5-Sayaka Sato (Jpn) bt Maria Febe Kusumastuti (Ina) 21-9, 21-3; Nitchaon Jindapol (Tha) bt 7-Busanan Ongbumrungphan (Tha) 21-14, 21-14; 2-Sung Ji Hyun (Kor) bt Yui Hashimoto (Jpn) 21-19, 21-13.

Men’s doubles: Pranav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar bt 3-Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding (Den) 22-20, 11-21, 23-21.

Women’s doubles: 6-G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa bt Puttita Suprajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanchai (Thai) 23-21, 21-17.